Cloud data

Private, Public or Hybrid: Cloud Models Explained

What’s the difference between these three technology models?

As employees, if we have our head in the clouds, we’re probably daydreaming—and we’re most likely doing no favors for productivity and the bottom line at our companies.

But when it comes to having our work in the clouds, the forecast gets a little more sunny. That’s right. In the context of business technology, clouds don’t have such a negative connotation anymore.

Companies are rapidly adopting cloud computing technology as a means of adding value, boosting productivity and providing greater returns on IT investments. But there’s more to the cloud than servers business data and the ability to access information from anywhere.

Organizations of all sizes and industries are pursuing this promising and ever-advancing technology. But before a business moves to the cloud, it should consider the various cloud models that are available—public, private and hybrid. Read on for a breakdown of each solution.

The underlying concept behind cloud computing is essentially the ability to share resources to optimize performance by using a variety of computing, networking and storage resources to process and store data. Cloud resources can be adaptive and automated: even the smallest change, such as a failing component, can be quickly identified and the workload can be automatically shifted to other working components. Types of cloud models differ by control and manageability requirements.

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Public Clouds
Public clouds are exactly that—public. The vendor’s IT infrastructure runs a cloud environment and allows multiple customers to access the resources from across the network. The cost effectiveness and high scalability allows users to accommodate varying workload demands while paying per use. Examples of public cloud usage include collaboration projects that may change team members over time, development and testing application code, and standard business applications used by many people such as email or Customer Relationship Management software.

Private Clouds
Many companies have considered or have implemented private clouds. This type of cloud provides all the efficiencies, reliability and availability of a public cloud without serving multiple tenants (although, some companies may consider their internal divisions, locations, and departments as individual tenants within the company). Private clouds lose the scalability benefit of public clouds, but provide greater control and security for the data residing in the cloud. When a company is highly data-oriented and operates under strict privacy and security regulations, private clouds are the better option. When a company adopts a private cloud, they own all the hardware and software required to build and maintain the cloud.

Extended versions of public and private clouds
The lines between public and private clouds are becoming less defined as more public cloud providers offer private clouds for businesses. Similarly, vendors running private clouds are making public services available to other companies or individual services. Amazon is an original pioneer in cloud computing with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Before that, their cloud infrastructure was only used privately to support their online store. This is a case where a private cloud was extended into a public cloud.

Hybrid Clouds
Hybrid clouds are a combination of both private and public cloud offerings used by a single company. A company that supports multiple markets may use public clouds to interact with their customers while maintaining customer data behind a private cloud. The best of both worlds is available concerning scalability and control. A company may choose to run business applications from a private cloud, but request additional public cloud resources during peak hours, or employ a hybrid solution by using a private cloud for data privacy and security, but run standard applications, like email, from a public cloud.

All cloud types have their benefits and issues. A public cloud has greater scalability, but is more vulnerable to cyberattack. Providers of public cloud services will often have very high security standards and procedures, but they are also a bigger target. Private clouds sacrifice scalability for better control related to data privacy and security, and often cost more time and money to implement and maintain. Hybrids provide the benefits of both, but also require greater management.

Deciding the best course of action for your business requires a thorough understanding of your business systems, the sensitivity of your data, defining your minimum-acceptable security requirements, and creating a plan that takes all of these variables into account.

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